ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Two weeks before opening kickoff at the University of Michigan's newly renovated football stadium, smokers are preparing for new rules that will effectively force them to get out, and stay out, if they want to light up.
Starting with the Wolverines' season opener against Connecticut on Sept. 4, all designated smoking areas on Michigan Stadium grounds will be gone. The move, coupled with the stadium's longtime policy barring re-entry, means fans can't step outside the gates to grab a quick smoke if they hope to return to their seats.
The sweeping stadium ban, announced to season-ticket holders earlier this summer, is a precursor to a campus-wide smoking ban that takes effect next July.
"This is just ridiculous," said Tim Smith, a season-ticket holder and smoker who lives about 15 minutes from the stadium. Still, he said he'd rather tolerate the rule for three hours than give up his seats. "I'm sure I will be smoking right up until I get to the gate," he said.
On Michigan's main Facebook page, most fans congratulated the university. University spokesman Bruce Madej said he knew of only one person who had emailed with a question about the smoking ban. Stadium staff will enforce the rules by simply asking people to extinguish their cigarettes or cigars, he said.